Is Zadar Worth Visiting? TOP Reasons To Visit In 2024

If you found a cheap flight to Zadar and wonder if is Zadar worth visiting, I’ve got you covered.

Zadar is a Croatian coastal town situated right in the middle of the coastline and less well-known than Dubrovnik or Split. 

Still, Zadar has an international airport, and it is easy to visit from all around Europe!

I lived in Croatia for over 20 years, and I’ve visited Zadar many times throughout the years. 

It is a great place to visit on a day trip when backpacking Croatia or as a base to discover the rest of the Croatian coast.

If you need more reasons to convince you to visit Zadar, let’s jump right in!

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Is Zadar Worth Visiting?

Yes, Zadar is worth visiting!

This Croatian coastal town is not as popular as Split or Dubrovnik, but it offers the same type of laid-back summer holiday vibes and beautiful architecture.

Zadar is a great day trip destination and a stop on your Croatia itinerary, but it is also a good choice for a holiday base where you can stay and explore the rest of the region.

So, why visit Zadar?

  • Admire impressive historical sites,
  • Swim in crystal clear sea on Zadar beaches,
  • Explore unique art installations and lively nightlife,

Reasons To Visit Zadar

photo of a girl leaning on an ancient collumn in front of a tone church of st donatus in zadar, croatia

1. Impressive Historical Sites

The main reason to visit Zadar at any time of the year is for its impressive historical heritage. 

Zadar dates back thousands of years ago, with the Roman times being one of its most significant periods. 

Zadar used to be a Roman town of Zara, and you can find remains of this era throughout the city. 

The Roman Forum holds the most impressive collection of monuments dating back to that time.

9th century Church of St. Donat is the most recognizable symbol of Zadar. Nowadays, this unique-looking church hosts acapella music concerts!

Zadar is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, with Zadar city walls representing one of the best preserved  Venetian Works of Defence between the 15th and 17th centuries.

If you want to learn more about the history of Zadar, you should visit the Archeological Museum.

🏛️ Learn more about Zadar with a Historical walking tour!

2. Beaches In Zadar

If you’re planning to travel to Zadar in summer, Zadar beaches are definitely one of the top reasons to visit. 

Zadar is home to many stunning beaches, and they are close to the city center. 

Most beaches in Zadar are pebbled beaches, but there is one kind of sandy beach nearby too.

You can even swim in the city center if you get too hot while sightseeing. I wasn’t convinced as I don’t like to see boats nearby when swimming, but lots of people didn’t seem to mind!

a photo of a square in zadar with colorful houses lining the marble floored square

3. Picturesque Old Town

If you like coastal town vibes, you’ll love the Old Town of Zadar. 

Zadar is a living city. Despite the Old Town being a tourist attraction, locals still live there and go around their everyday lives.

You’ll see the farmers market, court, university, school, and many cafes in the Old Town. 

There are so many Instagram-worthy spots in Zadar, so you can just get lost exploring Zadar’s winding alleys. 

However, Zadar is not a fairytale town where every house dates back to medieval times. 

Instead, you will admire an ancient church, and right next to it, there will be a 1950s apartment complex.

I found Zadar’s Old Town quite unique among Croatia’s coastal towns, as you never know what to expect!

girl sitting on zadar sea organ

4. Unique Modern Art Installations

What I like the most about Zadar is how seamlessly the city blends its rich historical heritage with cool, modern vibes. 

The Sea Organ is one of the most unique art installations I’ve ever seen. 

This experimental musical instrument is powered by waves entering the pipes, creating a distinctive melody that sounds like an organ. 

Right next to the Sea Organ is another art installation, Greeting To The Sun. 

It is a large circle with solar panels that lights up as the sun sets at night. It is located at the best sunset spot in Zadar, hence the name. 

waterfalls in krka national park in croatia

5. Great Base For Day Trips

Situated right in the middle of the Dalmatia coast, Zadar is perfectly positioned for day trips in the region.

If you’re spending a week in Croatia, you can sleep in Zadar and visit several other coastal towns and national parks on a day trip.

Some of the best day trips from Zadar are: 

  • Krka National Park – I visited Krka National Park a couple of times, and I find it equally impressive every time I visit. It is an easy day trip from Zadar and (slightly) less crowded alternative to Plitvice. 
  • Kornati National Park – I’m conflicted about Kornati National Park. I can appreciate that it is a truly unique archipelago you should see once in your life, but I don’t think I’d got here twice. 
  • Paklenica National Park – This is a national park for hiking enthusiasts, as it features many incredible hiking trails. Escape the crowds and enjoy untouched nature in the Croatian mountains. 
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park – Plitvice is the best-known Croatian national park and an easy day trip from Zadar. You can either drive yourself or join a tour, just don’t forget to book a ticket in advance. 
  • Šibenik – Discover one of the most picturesque seaside towns in Croatia. It’s smaller than Zadar, so it is perfect for a day trip.
  • Trogir – Another coastal town that is still kind of a hidden gem!
  • Split – Instead of staying in Split, you can visit on a day trip from Zadar. Discover the city and visit the stunning UNESCO-listed Diocletian Palace.
a night photo of a large group of people standing on a light installation in Zadar called Greeting to the sun

6. Nightlife

If you’re after a fun summer holiday nightlife, Zadar will not disappoint you!

As the days get longer and warmer, the streets of Zadar fill with locals and tourists enjoying a drink in the city center, going to nightclubs and bars, or simply going for a walk.  

On the other hand, winters in Zadar can be a bit quiet, especially during the week. 

7. Romantic Sunset

Zadar is a town that has something for everyone, whether you’re backpacking Croatia solo or coming here on a romantic getaway. 

The city has a lovely seafront promenade with a stunning sunset view! 

If you want to take me on a romantic date, strolling along the coastline is one of my favorite things to do.

In fact, the sunsets here are so beautiful that there’s a whole monument called Greeting To The Sun dedicated to it!

🌄 Watch Zadar sunset with this sunset cruise!

a photo of a small port in zadar in front of zadar wall with several small boats in the water

8. Lots Of Summer Activities

Zadar really comes alive in the summertime. That’s why there are so many summer activities to choose from!

Going on boat tours from Zadar is one of the most popular things to do in Zadar in summer. 

If you look at the map, you’ll see there are many islands nearby. The best way to explore them is by boat.

You could organize a boat trip on your own by getting ferry tickets. But you can also join a sailing tour and just relax and enjoy the day.

Also, there are many summer events in Zadar too. From concerts to music festivals, something is happening every weekend. 

9. Delicious Food

Finally, if you want to enjoy fresh and delicious food for a (slightly) cheaper price than where you’re from, Zadar is the place for you.

I’ve been living abroad since 2017, and every time I return to Croatia, I’m impressed by how full of flavor fruit and veggies are here.

If you want to treat yourself to a romantic dinner with sea views, Zadar is home to some incredible restaurants, even if you’re traveling as a vegan in Croatia!

The Botanist is easily the best fine-dining vegan restaurant in Croatia. It is the perfect place to try traditional Croatian dishes in a vegan version.

I’m vegan, so I can’t help with seafood recommendations, sorry!

How Much Time You Need In Zadar?

You can use Zadar as a base to explore the neighboring area or just visit as a short stop on your Croatia itinerary.

If you’re short on time, you can see all the best things in Zadar in one day

Ideally, I’d spend at least one night in the city, but you can also visit on a day trip. 

If you’re coming to Croatia for a summer holiday, Zadar is a great base.

You can stay in Zadar for one week and explore the rest of the region on day trips.

Zadar is perfectly situated for day trips to nearby National Parks and historic towns like Šibenik or Split. 

How To Get To Zadar?

Zadar is well-connected to the rest of the continent. You can reach Zadar by plane, bus, or boat!


Zadar is Ryanair hub, so the most popular way to get to Zadar is by flying.

The city is connected to many European destinations, and flights are very cheap in shoulder season.

One thing to consider if you want to visit Zadar in the low season is that Zadar Airport is basically closed during winter. There are only domestic flights from mid-October to April.

By Bus

You can get to Zadar by bus from most Croatian towns, and it is the most popular way to get around Croatia.

Buses along the coastline can be a hit-and-miss, especially in the high season when travel times are merely a suggestion. 

If you’re visiting Zagreb, you can take a bus from Zagreb to Zadar. I took it once, and it was quite a comfortable 4-hour drive. 

By Car

You can always drive to Zadar if you rent a car in Croatia.

Zadar is on the Croatian highway, so you don’t have to struggle on local roads.

I drove from Pula to Zadar once when I was doing my coastal Croatia road trip, and it was a very pleasant drive.

By Boat

A fun way to get to Zadar that you probably didn’t think of is by boat!

Driving along the Croatian coastline can take a long time due to summer traffic, but taking a boat cuts your travel time in half!

I take a boat from Pula to Zadar every time I fly back home to France in the summer. 

Where To Stay In Zadar

The best area to stay in Zadar is in the Old Town or close to it.

Zadar is a small town, so if you stay close to the Old Town, you can visit all the tourist attractions on foot. 

Best Time To Visit Zadar

You can visit Zadar at any time of the year, but summer is the most popular time. 

Zadar is the most lively in July and August, but also the most expensive.

To avoid the crowds and still enjoy summer in Zadar, I would consider visiting in June or September.

The weather in Zadar is great from April until October, and the prices are significantly lower than in the summer.

The only thing you could be missing out on is the beaches. I wouldn’t swim that early or that late into the season, but some people do!

Zadar in winter is still an interesting time to visit but be prepared for bura (strong, cold) wind.

FAQ: Visiting Zadar

Is Zadar A Good Holiday Destination?

Yes, Zadar is a good holiday destination if you’re seeking a mid-sized coastal town with beautiful beaches close to the city center. Zadar gets very lively in the summer, with local and foreign tourists flocking to enjoy summer in Zadar.

What Is Zadar Known For?

Zadar is known for its pristine beaches, impressive historical monuments, and picturesque old town. This Croatian coastal town is a popular holiday destination, with tourists from all over the world coming to enjoy the laid-back coastal summer. 

Summary: Is Zadar Worth Visiting

I think Zadar is a fantastic coastal town to visit in Croatia. 

Whether you want to visit on a day trip or use it as a base to explore the Dalmatian coastline, visiting Zadar is a great idea. 

Zadar is less touristy than Dubrovnik or Hvar and has lovely beaches and impressive monuments, making it a great stop on your Croatia itinerary. 

If you’re still deciding where in Croatia to go, compare Zadar and Pula to see if the northern Croatian coast is a better choice for you!

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